Her Space Odyssey
Lindsey Brittain Collins, an artist based in New York, is a unique figure in the art world. While she holds an MBA from Columbia University, it was during her time in business school that she discovered the courage to pursue her passion for art. Originally from Virginia, Collins took nighttime painting classes at Parsons School of Design while completing her MBA. Fast forward to today, and she has come full circle as a recent MFA graduate from Columbia. Collins works across various artistic mediums, including collage, sculpture, installation, and more. Her work delves into topics such as architecture, economic structures, aesthetics, and, more importantly, how these elements shape racial perceptions and urban environments. She confronts the erasure of Blackness and Black history, challenging the white gaze upon her work.
Collins finds inspiration in the things that captivate her in everyday life. One of her ongoing series, “Nannie’s Grave,” revolves around the burial site of a young girl who passed away near her eighth birthday in 1856. Located in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., where Collins briefly resided, the burial site is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Despite gaps in historical records, Collins continuously discovers new offerings left at Nannie’s Grave, including dolls, toys, birthday cards, and trinkets. This series serves as a testament to Collins’ exploration of Nannie’s legacy, her impact, and the broader questions it raises about Black bodies and the significance of individuals with limited historical information.
From Business School to Art
Collins shares her journey from studying economics and sociology at the University of Virginia (UVA) to pursuing an MBA at Columbia. The business education she received made her realize that it was merely an interest, not a career path. Despite being an artist at heart, it was during her time in business school that she found the courage to pursue art as a full-time career. She enrolled in painting classes at Parsons, combining her business studies and passion for art. After completing her MBA, Collins made the decision to dedicate herself to art completely.
Evolution of Artistic Style
During the transition from Parsons to her MFA at Columbia, Collins explored figurative work centered on the Black body and its representation. However, the intensifying political climate led her to pivot towards abstraction. Collins reflects on her early work and highlights the ongoing “Nannie’s Grave” series as the only one she started right after business school and continues to work on to this day. She also discusses her interest in architecture and space, which influences her artistic style and exploration of how architecture impacts our experiences.
The Triptych: Anguish Reaching into the Sky
Collins explains her triptych piece titled “Anguish Reaching into the Sky” and its inspiration from a class she took during her MBA program. The class focused on social impact real estate investing, where she realized the detachment of profit maximization from positive community impact. Returning to Harlem, Collins photographed the area, seeking inspiration for her painting. The triptych explores hidden narratives and the dehumanization of individuals through data points, creating a vision of spaces and experiences within Harlem’s architecture.
Creating Safe Spaces: Black Students in White Institutions
The artist delves into a new project focused on the creation of safe spaces by Black students within predominantly white institutions. Drawing from her own experiences as a student at UVA, Collins reflects on racial tension on campus and how Black students forged their own sense of community. The collage painting incorporates photographs of the university, embedded ephemera, and memories from her undergraduate years. It serves as a reflection on personal experiences and aims to elevate the stories of Black students within these institutions.
Reflections and Future Work
Collins discusses her recent works and ongoing projects. With her thesis show approaching, she reflects on the disruption caused by the pandemic and its impact on her artistic process. Despite the challenges, it has pushed her to work at a faster pace than usual, which has been both exciting and transformative. Collins also shares her experience presenting a video response at the Jewish Museum about the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville. The video captures her reactions and reflections on the statue, which coincided with the Supreme Court ruling on its future.
Lindsey Brittain Collins, an artist known for her explorations of racial perceptions, urban environments, and the erasure of Blackness, has forged a unique path in the art world. From her business studies to her MBA and MFA, Collins has found the courage to pursue her passion for art. Her ongoing series, “Nannie’s Grave,” serves as a testament to the exploration of Black history and the significance of spaces and architecture. Collins’ work continues to shed light on overlooked narratives and to empower Black communities. With her upcoming thesis show and ongoing projects, she remains dedicated to creating thought-provoking art that challenges societal norms and brings underrepresented stories to the forefront.
1. How did Lindsey Brittain Collins transition from business to art?
After completing her MBA, Lindsey Brittain Collins found the courage to pursue art full-time and enrolled in painting classes. This transition allowed her to combine her business knowledge with her passion for art.
2. What inspires Lindsey Brittain Collins’ artwork?
Collins finds inspiration in her everyday encounters and the things that captivate her as she exists in the world. Her ongoing series, “Nannie’s Grave,” is deeply inspired by a burial site of a young girl and explores racial perceptions, history, and the significance of spaces.
3. How does architecture influence Lindsey Brittain Collins’ work?
Architecture plays a significant role in Collins’ art. She explores how it shapes our experiences, particularly in urban environments, and delves into how it impacts racial perceptions. Collins incorporates architectural elements in her works, creating thought-provoking pieces that highlight these connections.
4. What themes does Lindsey Brittain Collins’ work often explore?
Collins’ work delves into themes such as racial perceptions, urban environments, Black history, and the erasure of Blackness. She uses her art to challenge societal norms, shed light on overlooked narratives, and empower marginalized communities.
5. What can we expect from Lindsey Brittain Collins in the future?
Collins is currently focused on her thesis show and continues to work on various projects. As an artist dedicated to research-based and conceptual art, she aims to create thought-provoking pieces that elevate the stories of underrepresented individuals and provoke conversations about social issues.